Timing Is Everything: Medicare Enrollment for Retirees Over 65Posted by Medicare Made Clear
Medicare eligibility kicks in for most of us when we turn 65. But you may not have needed Medicare right away because you or your spouse worked past your 65th birthday and had an employer-sponsored health care plan. Now you’re getting ready to retire and may lose your current insurance. What happens next?
What Do You Have and What Will You Need?
You may already have Part A (hospital insurance) since most people get it without having to pay a monthly premium. You may have also signed up for Part B (medical insurance) or enrolled in a Part D (prescription drug) plan if your employer insurance didn’t cover all your expenses.
Next think about what will be available to you after you retire. Maybe your employer offers retiree health insurance. You may also have coverage from another source, such as the Railroad Retirement Board or your union. Many of these plans require you to also have Original Medicare, so be sure to talk to your benefits administrator to understand your specific situation.
Do you have a spouse or other dependents on your employer insurance? If you have a retiree health plan, that may include your dependents. Otherwise, find out whether your employer offers COBRA (the option to continue your employee health insurance at your own expense) or other insurance for dependents of retirees. Your state’s Health Insurance Marketplace is another possibility until your spouse turns 65.
Take a look at the coverage you have and decide whether it meets your needs. Also give some thought to the future. If you don’t get Medicare Part B or Part D now but decide you want it later, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty.
These penalties don’t apply if you enroll during a Special Enrollment Period (SEP), such as when you retire. The SEP for adding Part B lasts for eight months after your employer insurance ends. The SEP for Part C (Medicare Advantage) and Part D plans is two months.
That’s a lot to take in, but help is available. Our Enrollment Timing Tool can help you figure out when you need to apply for Medicare.
If you don’t enroll during the SEP, you can add coverage during the General Enrollment Period. This runs every year from January 1 through March 31 for Parts A and B. Open Enrollment for Part C and D plans is from October 15 through December 7. But remember that you may pay a late enrollment penalty if you miss the SEP.
You can enroll in Parts A and B at your local Social Security office or on Medicare.gov. If you want to add a Part D plan or a Medicare Supplement Plan, or opt for a Medicare Advantage Plan, you’ll have some shopping to do. Use the online Plan Finder at Medicare.gov or talk to specific insurance companies to find out what’s available.
Remember, this is just a general overview. Look closely at your own situation to decide what’s best for you. That will give you the peace of mind you need to enjoy your retirement.
For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.